The six hot topics at ALP national conference – You would expect these to be the issues that really matter to the mums and dads of Australia, out there in the suburbs working two jobs to pay the mortgage and keep the kids in a private school, right? Things like the cost of living, energy bills, the economy, employment and opportunity, right? Wrong.
The hot topics of crucial importance to the gathering of Labor party faithful, that will occasion the impassioned speeches, and procure the most earnest hand wringing (apart from the moment mid-way during Comrade Bill’s speech when he says for the fourth time ‘Let me take you through this point because I know it’s an important one’) will be – socialism, climate change, same sex marriage, unions, national security and asylum seekers.
Setting aside asylum seekers and national security, which are of importance to most Australians in the current global environment, can anyone seriously imagine the topic of conversation in a front bar somewhere turning to socialist fantasies such as those enshrined in the (1921) Labor constitution? Or the employees of a small business somewhere earnestly discussing the role and place of unions in the workforce of the 21st century over their Friday evening get together, when close to nine in ten of all workers in the private sector are not union members, have probably never met a union representative, and if they know anything about unions, it’s the thugs hurling abuse (or worse) on the picket line at some construction site lockout who immediately come to mind?
And then there is same sex marriage. Yawn. Most Australians don’t really care what consenting adults, married or not, do to each other in the privacy of their own bedrooms, even if they don’t want or need to know the sordid details. It will be a triumphant moment if the conference consents, by conscience or compulsion, to same sex marriage – triumphant, that is, among the inner city vegan crowd who vote Green anyway.
Personally I especially enjoy the moment at the end of these nation-wide comings together of Labor types when the comrades link arms and sing Solidarity Forever. Nothing says anachronistic, irrelevant, and out of touch, than a smiling rendition of a chorus fondly recalling class battles and stereotypes of the distant past. Nothing makes the Labor leader caught up in a moment of, err solidarity, like this, look more like yesterday’s man or woman (yesterday, that is, as in about two centuries ago).
Sadly, the vast majority of punters out there in the suburbs, the workplaces, and the pubs and clubs of this great nation won’t see that moment, and won’t give a stuff about it, or the ALP national conference, even if they did know it was on. They will have much better things to do on their weekend. And if they did catch a bit of the conference on the news, a few seconds of a lobotomy inducing Shorten oration would see off anyone not physically restrained anyway.